2012 has been a hell of a year for PC gaming, though, you could argue that it's the hardware and not the software that has really made an impression.
We've seen AMD and NVIDIA lock horns on many an occasion, and the ongoing battle for graphics card supremacy has been thoroughly entertaining. The number of Radeon HD 7000-series cards and GeForce GTX 600-series cards has been such that we've seen more match ups than a WWE Royal Rumble.
The winners, too, have been tough to call - performance can vary wildly between titles, and pricing can go up or down between continents - but through it all, there has remained one constant; if you've got the cash, the GeForce GTX 690 is the fastest graphics card around.
Unleashed back in May, NVIDIA's revered top-of-the-range card takes two 28nm Kepler GPUs and links them together on a single board using a high-speed bridge. The GTX 690 is effectively SLI without multiple cards, and though the two-GPUs-on-one-PCB approach is nothing new, NVIDIA managed to surprise us with an elegant dual-slot card that looked good, kept cool and quiet, and ran like the clappers.
But that wasn't the biggest surprise, this is; for four months and counting, AMD hasn't fired back. The GTX 690 has gone unchallenged and though we've heard mumblings of a fabled Radeon HD 7990, such a card has yet to materialise. Has AMD decided that all-in-one CrossFire is too niche a solution? Who knows, but for fans of all-things Radeon, there's good news as AMD's partners aren't willing to sit back and let the GTX 690 stand alone at the top of the GPU food tree. PowerColor is the first to step up to the challenge, and it's doing so with a monstrous dual-GPU solution dubbed the HD 7990 Devil 13.
If the name doesn't tell you that this one's more than just another graphics card, the price tag will. Arriving at stores priced at a cool €1,000 (roughly £800), the Devil 13 isn't for the faint hearted. Its reason for existence is simple; it's designed to lay the smackdown on GeForce GTX 690.
There's a heavyweight battle brewing, but before we find out who throws the heavier punches, we need to take a closer look at PowerColor's overall package. Knowing that would-be customers are going to be handing over a good chunk of cash, the manufacturer has accordingly spruced up the card's presentation. The naughty-looking box is neat and it serves its purpose - you just know there's something devilish inside.
'The new ruler of gaming world,' says PowerColor, though we'll be the judge of that. The first tier of the box is merely a taster, with individual compartments housing all of the bundled swag. The presentation is good - this is clearly a step up from your average graphics card - and there's enough in the bundle to at least whet the appetite.
PowerColor includes all the usuals; instruction manuals, driver disc, power cables, adapters (mini-DP-to-DVI and DVI-to-VGA) and a CrossFire Bridge - you know, just in case you're planning on putting two Devil 13s together.
On top of that, there's a three-year warranty as standard, a plastic jack to prop up the card, a rather-nice 11-piece Wiha Screwdriver set, and an active DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter. The latter ensures that users can hook-up three DVI displays right out of the box; something that a lot of Radeon cards don't provision for.
We like the bundle, we appreciate the presentation, and we're intrigued by a dual-GPU Radeon that's staking a claim for the title of world's fastest graphic card. But there's a problem; PowerColor sent us two cards, both of which were unsuitable for use due to a major engineering flaw.